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Gas Hydrates Report from the EMD Annual Leadership Meeting held on 18 June, 2016

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Methane clathrate (CH4·5.75H2O) or (4CH4·23H2O), also called methane hydrate, hydromethane, methane ice, fire ice, natural gas hydrate, or gas hydrate, is a solid clathrate compound (more specifically, a clathrate hydrate) in which a large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice. Originally thought to occur only in the outer regions of the Solar System, where temperatures are low and water ice is common, significant deposits of methane clathrate have been found under sediments on the ocean floors of the Earth.
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Natural gas hydrate (NGH), a crystalline compound of water and natural gas, has been recognized as a vast potential energy resource for over two decades, but its commerciality has persistently remained beyond the horizon due to technical and economic hurdles.

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While exploration has slowed in many parts of the world in response to the industry’s lagging downturn, India is moving full steam ahead to encourage exploration and production on a domestic and international scale.

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On October 2, at the 3P Arctic Conference & Exhibition, Thomas Reichel will speak on "Global Screening of Gas Hydrates – How does the Arctic score?."

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Over the past ten years, oil and natural gas production has boomed. At the same time, the public has grown more concerned about the impact of energy production on health, safety and the environment. This presents an especially interesting science policy problem because of the paucity of scientific data regarding the sources, composition and volumes of air and water emissions from oil and gas operations. These data are necessary to guide emission-mitigation technology and regulation.

This presentation will examine two examples of data limitations that affect energy policy.

  • Several years ago, hydraulic fracturing was indicted for causing methane in Appalachian aquifers. However, a careful look at historic data and new geochemical studies show that most of the methane is naturally occurring, and from formations other than the Marcellus. Thus, policies simply banning hydraulic fracturing may do little to solve this problem.
  • Scientists have long known that energy production may be associated with increased seismicity and recently hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal wells have been implicated in the increasing numbers of small, felt earthquakes in the mid-continent. Recent research shows that a small percentage of wastewater injection wells and an even smaller percentage of hydraulic fracturing treatments are inducing earthquakes. In addition, the results of mitigation procedures implemented in Oklahoma will soon be available.
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In the past 15 years global methane hydrate research has moved from predicting general locations where deposits might occur to drilling and testing potentially commercial subsurface deposits offshore and in the Arctic. Now, the United States, Japan, South Korea and India are launching additional offshore drilling and production tests.

Why should care about methane hydrates? First, the world will continue to depend on fossil fuels well past 2040, and natural gas is the cleanest option. Second, some countries that have little indigenous energy have potentially large methane hydrate resources--Japan, South Korea and India for example. Therefore, methane hydrate production could change the dynamics of global energy trade. Finally, methane hydrates occur in low concentrations on the seafloor and in shallow subsea sediments around the world, including the arctic. Research is needed to understand the conditions under which these hydrates may dissociate and release methane.

This presentation will review the current research and field tests, and evaluate the potential for future natural gas production from hydrates.
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Natural gas hydrates are naturally occurring combinations of water and natural gas (mainly methane) that form under conditions of high pressure and low temperature. They are known to be widespread in permafrost regions and in deepwater sediments of outer continental margins. It is generally accepted that the amount of natural gas contained in the world's hydrate accumulations greatly exceeds the volume of known conventional gas reserves, and can be commercially produced by adapting existing conventional oil and gas production technology. The global resource potential of gas hydrate is in the range of many thousands of trillion cubic feet (Tcf). By comparison, the current annual global demand for natural gas is approximately 117 Tcf. While the current natural gas glut has slowed industry interest in North America, other nations are pressing forward. The 2013 production test in Japan demonstrated the technical feasibility of hydrate production, and commercial production is planned there for 2017. India, South Korea, and China are in close pursuit. The U.S. hydrate program received renewed focus in 2014.

Art Johnson

Hydrate Energy International

Kenner, Louisiana

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11 February, 2010 11 February, 2010 1441 Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/oc-es-predicting-gas-hydrates.jpg?width=100&height=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true
11 February 2010

Gas hydrates, ice-like substances composed of water and gas molecules (methane, ethane, propane, etc.), occur in permafrost areas and in deep water marine environments.

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